SOCIETY OF THE SNOW – Review by Susan Granger

Oscar-nominated Society of the Snow is Spain’s entry for Best International Film at this year’s Academy Awards. J.A Bayona’s true-life survival tale centers on the 19 members of a Uruguayan rugby team that set off from Montevideo for Santiago, Chile, and was stranded in the snow-covered Andes for 72 days. Told primarily from the perspective of rugby player Numa Turcatti (Enzo Vogrincic Roldan), their ordeal begins on October 13, 1972, when poor weather conditions forced Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 to land in Mendoza, Argentina, overnight.

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AIR – Review by Nell Minow

2023 will be remembered as the year of the movies that are consumer product origin stories. We’re used to seeing heroic stories of military figures, musicians, political leaders and activists, and, because movies are written by writers — writers. But in 2023 we had a remarkable number of movies with heroes or anti-heroes who were, well, capitalists. We saw the origin stories of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Blackberrys, Beanie Babies, and the proto-computer game Tetris, By far the best of the group, though, was the story of a sneaker, a shoe that would become so popular it would have, well, a massive cultural footprint.

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SOCIETY OF THE SNOW – Review by Jennifer Green

Society of the Snow, Spain’s entry to the International Feature Film Oscar, is based on real events involving a 1972 chartered plane crash that killed upwards of two dozen people, among them members of a Uruguayan rugby team, and left others to fend for themselves for months in the freezing reaches of the Andes Mountains. Director J.A. Bayona focuses more acutely on the physical challenges the men faced during the two and a half months they were stranded in the Andes. The result is that you can finish this film and still feel you don’t know a lot about any one of the characters. The story is about the group – the society – more than its individuals.

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NYAD – Review by T.J. Callahan

Academy Award nominee Annette Bening makes a splash as the tenacious, outspoken, record breaking swimmer with a superiority complex. Bening keeps this flick afloat with her willingness to go the extra mile in and out of the ocean. Co-star and Oscar Winner Jodie Foster matches Bening stroke for stroke as her best friend and coach, Bonnie Stoll. As NYAD kicks into gear, so do Bening and Foster with an effortless relay exchange of dialogue that helped keep this two hour aquatic tale from going under.

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON – Review by Susan Kamyab

No surprise, Martin Scorsese hands us another triumph. Though the story of bad people murdering innocent ones and later getting caught is a familiar theme for the director, he revives the formula by telling an infuriating piece of non-fiction which reminds us of a heartbreaking American injustice that deserves to be remembered. It’s an important part of history told masterfully through a slightly comedic tone that makes the horrifying truths easier to digest.

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THE BURIAL – Review by Nadine Whitney

Maggie Betts’ The Burial is based on a true David and Goliath lawsuit over a contract dispute between a Biloxi, Mississippi based funeral home owner and a multi-million dollar corporation known as Loewen LLC a “death care” industry giant from Canada. Taking its inspiration from an article written by Jonathan Harr in Time Magazine, Betts writing in conjunction with Doug Wright turns the story in part to act as a biography of lawyer Willie E. Gary (Jamie Foxx) and his client Jerry O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones), a throwback nineties courtroom drama, and most essentially, a reflection of two versions of ‘The American Dream.’

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NYAD – Review by Jennifer Merin

Anyone age five or older in 2023 most likely knows of the exploits of Diana Nyad, the legendary long distance swimmer who at long last conquered her long-standing goal of swimming the 110 miles of open sea from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. She was age 64 when she dove into her fifth attempt to swim the distance and, despite daunting odds, reached Key West after some 53 hours in the water. Directing their first narrative feature, directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin effectively tell the story of Nyad’s triumph.

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IRENA’S VOW (TIFF 2023) – Review by Liz Braun

Irena Gut was a teenaged nurse-in-training in Poland when the Nazis invaded her country in 1939. Gut used all the resources at her disposal to help save the lives of Polish Jews during World War II, whether that was sneaking food into the ghetto or hiding Jews in the villa where she later became housekeeper to German Major Eduard Rugemer. Irena’s Vow is a new film version of Gut’s war experiences.

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ONE LIFE (TIFF 2023) – Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

Based on true events, One Life follows Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker who was deeply affected by the fate that Jewish children could face when Nazi Germany declared the beginning of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. Nicholas (Johnny Flynn, portraying a younger Winton) promptly decided to involve all the friends he could find in Prague to save as many Jewish children as possible who were at risk of imminent danger.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 14, 2023: HILMA

One of modern art’s most significant — and simultaneously least well-known — figures gets her moment in the spotlight in Lasse Hallström’s lovingly filmed biopic Hilma. The film tells the story of Hilma af Klint, a Swedish painter whose affinity for mysticism and the spiritual world led her to create large-scale abstract art that you’d swear was influenced by Kandinsky … if you didn’t know with certainty that af Klint’s work predated his.

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